By Antti Tuomainen
Published by Orenda Books (10 October 2017)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher.
A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he's dying. What is more, the cause is discovered to be prolonged exposure to toxins; in other words, someone has slowly but surely been poisoning him. Determined to find out who wants him dead, Jaakko embarks on a suspenseful rollercoaster journey full of unusual characters, bizarre situations and unexpected twists.
The Man Who Died's first line certainly welcomed me straight into protagonist Jaakko's nightmare diagnosis. He's just been told by his doctor that he's dying, being slowly poisoned by an unknown toxin, after experiencing a whole host of distressing symptoms.
This leads into a black comedy as Jaakko tries to discover the culprit and why they have it in for him. There are plenty of potential poisoners in his life, considering his job is the successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry. With some slapstick scenes, chases that don't go quite as planned, a whole host of bizarre characters and plenty of dark humour, Antti Tuomainen takes us on a journey into Jaako's working life and personal relationships. There's much philosophical discussion about life and death and hopes and dreams, with a running theme of betrayal (and also love).
I was glued to this book. It made me laugh and grimace at times, and also made me sad. It's very different from anything else I've read in a while, with some brilliant twists that I really didn't see coming at all. The writing is stunning with vivid and intense descriptions of people and places - I could visualise it all so clearly. I learnt a lot about growing mushrooms too!
Definitely a book for those who like something deliciously dark and delightfully different.